Capitation Delay Leads to Suspension of School Co-curricular Competitions
Public secondary schools have suspended all co-curricular activities that were scheduled to kick off this weekend as the delay in government funding began to bite. The Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KSSHA) chairman Kahi Indimuli revealed that the organisers have had to suspend the competitions indefinitely until when the government releases money to schools. “There is no money as the government has not released funds for schools for second term. In fact, most of us are only operating at the mercy of suppliers who have agreed to continue supplying our schools with essential commodities on credit,” he said.
The school calendar released by the Ministry of Basic Education earlier this year, shows co-curricular activities were to begin this weekend at the sub-county level, running to the national level by the end of the term in August. This weekend, secondary schools were scheduled to compete in football, volleyball, rugby and indoor games at the subcounty level.
These have now been put on ice. Also suspended indefinitely are competitions in music, which was to begin this weekend and culminate in the annual national music festival in August. Kahi said head teachers were not ready to foot the bills for the school ball games and music festival the same way they did for athletics in first term. “Head teachers paid the bills for athletics held in first term. This time round, they are not ready to risk. And that is why we have advised them to postpone everything until the time the government releases funds,” the Machakos High School principal said. He warned that operations in schools could get worse if the government does not release the funds immediately. “The situation has been compounded by the current economic situation which has made many parents unable to pay school fees.
Head teachers have no other source of raising money other than through fees and government capitation,” Kahi said. Co-curricular activities play a key role in schools, since besides equipping the students with social skills and moral values, they facilitate their development in personality, intellectually and character.
Educationists argue that co-curricular activities also enable students release the negative energy accumulated during their studies. Teachers and educationists fear the indefinite postponement of co-curricular activities in this term, which is said to be longest, may have repercussions. “Failure to have activities such as football, netball and music festival is likely to have adverse consequences in schools. This is one issue I wish the government addresses before its side effects emerge,” educationist Jonathan Wesaya warned. Secondary school principals are complaining of lack of funds to smoothly run the learning institutions, as the second term gets to third week. Principals who spoke on anonymity yesterday said schools are grappling with huge debts and are afraid they could be grounded if nothing is done urgently.
According to the principals, one of the critical areas that has been affected is planning for co-curricular activities because students cannot participate without being facilitated. “The situation in our schools is really bad and we cannot even begin to plan for the activities before we know the way forward with regards to disbursements,” said one of the principals. With another adding: “The Ministry of Education has been saying it will disburse the money but we are yet to see anything in the accounts. Something must be done urgently.”
The ministry, in its website, underscores the need for co-curricular activities in schools to complement learning, saying it provides a platform for identification and nurturing of talents across various disciplines. These competitions are held in sub-county, county, national to East Africa schools’ championships. In the 2023/24 budget, Sh276 million has been allocated to cater for these activities.
The pre-Covid budget for co-curricular activities and Kenya Music Festival was Sh776 million, which adequately catered for most of the costs. Education PS Belio Kipsang has however affirmed secondary schools will receive their funds next week after the ministry and the National Treasury reached a deal to disburse capitation funds. The government allocates Sh22,244 per student under the free day secondary education programme.
Previously, this would be disbursed in three tranches in the ratio of 50:30:20. However, after the schools calendar was disrupted by the Covid pandemic, schools have been receiving the money in four quarters. Last term, schools had an allocation of Sh4,413 per student but received only Sh3,706. For third term last year, the allocation per student was Sh4,485.